Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hiking Fourteeners in Colorado

Steamboat locals like to push themselves to extremes. One way to beat the heat and experience some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado is by hiking a fourteener. The expression fourteener is used to describe mountain peaks over fourteen thousand feet. Colorado is home to more fourteeners than any other state. Mt. Elbert is the tallest peak in the Rockies at 14,443. However, expect a lot of foot traffic on Elbert as many visitors tend to flock there. For a more solitary experience, try the second highest peak in Colorado, Mt. Massive.  Mt. Massive sits right next door to Mt. Elbert and is only nineteen feet shorter. There are several different access points, but without the massive crowds of Mt. Elbert. Head up the back way or via the Southwest Slopes and expect to have the wilderness to yourself.

Because the drive takes several hours and the hike can take upwards of 6-8 hours, be sure to bringing camping gear to spend the night. Nighttime temperatures will most likely reach freezing depending on your elevation so bring warm clothes. While the Mt. Massive route is not a technical climb, meaning you don’t need ropes, crampons or ice axes, there is some scrambling involved on loose scree, so be sure to have solid hiking boots.

When heading out for a long hike it is important to keep altitude sickness and hypothermia in mind. Even though you may not feel thirsty, drink plenty of water throughout the hike and bring plenty of extra layers – Colorado weather is known for its ability to change on a dime. If a storm rolls in, turn back. Best bet for starting a climb like this is to leave the trailhead between 3:00am – 6:00 am. Most weather rolls in in the early afternoons. Dogs are welcome.

As for training, try out some of Steamboat’s mountains first to see how you do. Mt. Werner is a great one to hike up and take the gondola down, Mt. Zirkel is the closest Steamboat has to a fourteener at over thirteen thousand feet and is about a 10 hour round trip hike. Once you’ve done it, you’ll have earned your bragging rights.

For more info call Jon at 970-819-6930 or send me an email. I respect your time and will answer your questions without a sales pitch. You can also click back to the Steamboat Springs blog main page or go to my Steamboat, CO Real Estate page if you want to search for property in Steamboat.

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